NOAA: This year warmest on record so far

So far, this has been the hottest year in recorded history.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released new data showing that, from January to July, the average global temperature was 58.1 degrees. That was 1.22 degrees over the average from the 20th century, and the hottest since 1880, when reliable records begin.

And, while NOAA experts say global climate change isn’t the only reason that 2010 has been so hot–an El Nino event earlier in the year pushed temperatures up–it’s still the most important reason.

“We would not be where we are without” the influence of climate change, said Deke Arndt, of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
NOAA data show that July itself was the second-hottest on record, following July 1998. It came after a four-month string of broken records: March, April, May and June were all hotter than they’ve ever been.

Arndt said that, even if the globe cools down in the remaining months of 2010, the year seems on track to be one of the hottest of all time. “It’ll be in the top three, I can safely say that,” Arndt said.

Among the warmest spots, according to NOAA: Finland recorded an all-time record temperature of 99 degrees on July 29, and China recorded its hottest July since 1961. Russia has experienced a severe heat wave, in which temperatures set a new record of 102 degrees in Moscow, and huge wildfires burned across the country.

The news from NOAA comes at a time when efforts to tackle climate change–both internationally and in the U.S. Congress–have sputtered. Last year’s international conference in Copenhagen produced little of substance, and climate legislation has stalled in the Senate over concerns that increased regulation will cost American jobs.

— David A. Fahrenthold

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